Early bird gets the fine as Surdyk’s opens five months too early

Does the early bird get the worm every time? Maybe not on this go around.

The 156-year ban on selling alcohol on Sundays was lifted early this month, prompting the family owned Surdyk’s Liquor and Deli to open last Sunday.

The Sunday Sales Law goes into effect July 2, which forced a swift reaction from local law enforcement to the tune of a $2,000 civil penalty along with a 30-day liquor license suspension when the law does take eff ect on July 2.

“The governor signed the bill, everyone wants the bill, they voted for it, why not be in business,” said Surdyk, owner and president of the company to the Star Tribune. “Why send our tax money to Wisconsin when we can do the business ourselves.”

Owner Jim Surdyk opened his doors from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. last Sunday and announced that he was opening his doors via Facebook. He was contacted soon after opening by licensing manager Grant Wilson, who ordered him to close immediately. Wilson then went to the store to ask the sales team, and when they did not cease, he documented the violation. He continued to make sales and later received a fine and punishment.

While Surdyk claimed the early open was to “get ahead of the curve,” as told to WCCO, he was also opposed to the bill to legalize Sunday liquor sales. Going beyond face value would insinuate a case of civil disobedience to make a point.

“When I first heard of it, I thought it was a marketing strategy. I thought that this guy is violating the law to get recognized,” said MNSU’s Director of Law Enforcement Studies, Tamara Wilkins, when she shared her thoughts on the incident. “I thought he was trying to get press by trying to stir up business, and to do so in a radical way that is a form of civil disobedience. This was a violation of the law, and he knew it was a violation of the law. But at first, I thought he wanted the publicity and went with it.”

If the goal was press then Surdyk got all the free advertising he could have wanted as he made both the big papers in the Twin Cities and the major news stations, which may be enough to stifle the hefty fine and license suspension.

The opening did bring people from as far as Forest Lake to be at the first store open on a Sunday for the historic, although illegal, event.

“We just decided to open up,” said Surdyk to the Star Tribune. “We’re here, we’re busy, it’s great. People are happy to be here.”

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